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Saint Vincent's Reading List XXXVII: Vincent de Paul and Jubilee Years

by Rev Edward R Udovic CM 1/21/2013 8:58:00 AM

Bulla Smi. D.N.D. Urbani divina providentia papae VIII : qua sancti jubilaei celebratio in annum proximum MDCXXV indicitur, & promulgatur, by Pope Urban VIII. Rome: Camera Apostolica, 1624.

Call Number: SpC. 282.09 C363o1624

The tradition of the papal declaration of jubilee years dates to the year 1300 under Boniface VIII. During Vincent de Paul’s lifetime (1581-1660), successive popes proclaimed 26 jubilees. These jubilee years were called to celebrate the beginning of pontificates, for special needs or crises facing the Church, or in thanksgiving. The Counter Reformation popes greatly expanded this tradition from its usual celebration every twenty-five years.

Portrait of Urban VIII, by Bernini Through the proclamation of a jubilee year, Catholics were offered the opportunity of receiving a special plenary indulgence for the remission of the punishment of their sins in purgatory. This jubilee indulgence could be gained through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, confession, communion, visits to designated churches, or pilgrimages to Rome. Typically, no other indulgences could be offered during a jubilee year. Confessors could even forgive sins normally reserved to the pope.

Vincent’s extant writings and conferences are replete with references to the jubilees celebrated during his lifetime. In particular, he offered three lengthy conferences to the Daughters of Charity in 1641, 1653, and 1656.1  These conferences give fascinating insights into Tridentine theology and spirituality as they were being lived out in the seventeenth century Church. They are also valuable in that they demonstrate the ways in which Vincent used the conference model to engage, instruct, edify, and even challenge the first sisters to the holiness required of them as Christians, Daughters of Charity, and servants of the poor.

Vincent prayed: "Savior of our souls, we want to gain a Jubilee by means of which we’ll rid ourselves of all sin. We want to obtain from Your Goodness the sanctification of Holy Church and the preservation of our Holy Father. In addition, we ask for the grace that all Christians may henceforth serve You faithfully and that all Communities may live in the holiness You ask of them.... O Savior, grant us this grace...."2

The accompanying text is the papal bull Omnes gentes plaudite manibus of Urban VIII issued on May 15, 1624 proclaiming the Holy Year to be celebrated in 1625.


1Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, Vol. 9. (Brooklyn, NY: New City, 2004), 38-43, 479-490; Vol. 10 (2006), 186-196.
2Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, Vol. 10. (Brooklyn, NY: New City, 2006), 196. 


St. Vincent’s Reading List is a recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by Saint Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and  works published during his lifetime (1581-1660) illustrating his world. All materials discussed are held by DePaul University’s Richardson Library. The entire series may be viewed here.


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